Thursday, October 22, 2020

Southlake’s Commitment to Highest Standards of Safety and Security Visible in Proposed FY 2020 Budget

Maintaining the highest levels of safety and security is one of the City of Southlake’s top priorities. The proposed FY 2020 budget was prepared with the idea of ensuring that strategic investments are made to advance the City’s safety goal. These investments will help further protective measures and policies that reduce danger, risk or injury to all those who live, work or visit Southlake.

A crisis can happen at a moment’s notice, and while the City can’t always prevent a crisis from happening, it can take measures to ensure a feeling of safety and security in Southlake.

“It’s so important to maintain the highest standards of safety, security and protection so our residents are able to enjoy a high quality of life in Southlake,” said City Manager Shana Yelverton. “We always aim to minimize the risk, but if something does happen, we want residents to rest easy knowing we are prepared to handle it.

We have some of the highest trained and accredited professionals watching out for Southlake. I can promise that when they go into a situation they are confident in their decision making and are looking out for the best interest of those involved. This proposed FY 2020 budget is an investment that allows the City to ensure people are living their best possible lives.”

To maintain a high level of public safety, the City is focused on a number of key initiatives for the coming year, including school safety, building services funding, mosquito vector control, providing necessary equipment and training for police and fire personnel’s continued excellence, and funds to upgrade the Emergency Operations Center.

While keeping Southlake safe includes the work of the Police, Fire Department and Emergency Management, it also includes the work of many other City departments. Building inspectors and plan examiners work day after day to ensure the buildings in Southlake are held to the highest building code standards. Public Works maintains infrastructure throughout the City to make sure your water is safe to drink and the roads are safe to drive on. The FY 2020 budget has allocations to help sustain all those efforts.

One priority focus is school safety. This includes funding for maintain school zone flashers and crosswalk striping and the ongoing funding for School Resource Officer Program, of which $1.6 million is allocated in FY 2020. The program places at least one SRO in every Carroll ISD school.

“Keeping our students safe is always a top priority of the Southlake Police Department,” said Police Chief James Brandon. “Our SROs care deeply about the students and school faculty they protect every day. They take tremendous pride in a safe, protected environment where students can focus on learning.”

The Police Department will also purchase equipment such as additional body cameras and replacements for laser radars and tasers for our officers. The Fire Department will also be purchasing not only fire protective gear but will also replace two vehicles in their fleet.

The proposed FY 2020 Vehicle Replacement Fund will allow the Fire Department to replace a 2008 brush truck for $240,000 and a 2007 platform ladder truck for $1.6 million.

The City’s Vehicle Replacement Fund accounts for the resources needed to manage the purchase of vehicles for the City’s fleet. The establishment and funding for the vehicle replacement program was designed to even out expenses for the City’s fleet from year to year and provide a logical method for purchasing and retiring vehicles.

“We’re constantly looking ahead and making sure that when a vehicle is replaced, it’s planned and accounted for,” said Assistant City Manager Alison Ortowski. “The two vehicles being replaced in the Fire Department are more than 10 years old and have served us well.”

The Fire Department will also be making investments in upgrading the Emergency Operations Center (EOC). The EOC allows for City emergency personnel to gather in one central location to help mitigate a situation in time of crisis. Having the EOC as up-to-date as possible provides the City with an extra degree of readiness.

“Readiness is about ongoing training and having the equipment and materials we need to get the job done,” said Fire Chief Michael Starr. “The EOC is a great asset that allows us to best manage any incident that comes our way. It brings many resources together and provides what we need to stay focused, confident and use our best judgment when making important decisions that will impact the City in high-stress situations.”

All of the safety and security investments outlined in the proposed FY 2020 budget allow for the City to prepare to be ready for crisis and protect the community while making lives safer. Interested in learning more about other safety and security investments? Visit the City of Southlake website at www.CityofSouthlake.com/FY2020.

Proposed FY 2020 Budget Offers Largest Tax Rate Reduction in over 25 Years and Keeps the Promise to Continuously Improve Southlake

City Manager Shana Yelverton has filed the proposed FY 2020 Budget for City Council consideration.

FY 2020 Budget Accomplishments LargeThe proposed budget totals $104.8 million dollars. This includes a 3.7 cent tax rate reduction, the largest in more than 25 years. Southlake’s 20% homestead exemption offers homeowners an equivalent tax rate of .328 cents for the average valued Southlake home, or about a $148,000 taxable value reduction.

Chief Financial Officer Sharen Jackson presented the FY 2020 Budget Guiding Principles at the August 6, 2019, City Council meeting sharing the news of the tax rate reduction for the first time. “Each year when we’re in the process of developing the budget, homeowner tax relief is always in the forefront of our minds in thinking through how we can provide relief to our residents,” noted Jackson.

Since 2009, City Council has worked strategically to target meaningful tax relief for homeowners, and the 2020 budget is no different.

“One of the goals that this Council set a couple of years ago was to continually, year after year, look for ways to cut the taxes for our citizens,” Mayor Laura Hill commented during the meeting. “Understanding that appraisals are constantly an issue of them going up, so to have a new tax rate that’s below the effective rate, and still offer the 20% homestead exemption to our residents which really gives them an extra piece of pie as compared to our commercial properties, I think that’s really important. Our residents made a huge investment to raise their families here in our community.

It’s just outstanding. At the end of the day we’re living within our means and while we are a wealthy community we might say ‘Hey we make lots of money, let’s spend lots of money.’ We can do things big and better and fancy but at the end of the day the money belongs to the taxpayers and we learn to manage that money and still build an incredible community.”

Did You Know Reduced Property Tax Supported DebtReducing Debt

Debt reduction is once again a priority in the FY 2020 Budget. “Continuing our commitment to reducing debt is paramount when we are in the process of preparing the budget,” said City Manager Shana Yelverton. “We strive to pay cash for our general fund capital improvement projects, and this year is no different from previous years. 100% of those projects will be cash funded in FY 2020.”

The multi-year Capital Improvements Program (CIP) identifies projects that will be undertaken in the upcoming five-year period, as well as projects beyond that timeframe. In FY 2020, the CIP includes funding for sidewalks as well as roadway projects across the City that are designed to help make travel within Southlake quicker and smoother.

“The City of Southlake installs and maintains miles and miles of sidewalks to provide our residents general connectivity,” notes Yelverton. “One of the CIP projects for FY 2020 is Citywide Pathway Improvements to add more sidewalks in Southlake. Not only will this add to connectivity it will also offer more safe routes to travel.”

Improved mobility and enhanced protection for those who live, work and visit Southlake are just some of the priorities for residents and Council. The proposed FY 2020 budget delivers on these priorities.

Did You Know SIF CIP FundingConnecting Southlake

FY 2020 mobility projects will continue with the City’s mission to keep connecting Southlake. Projects in the budget include the Zena Rucker Road Connector and improvements to some key intersections that will help alleviate ongoing traffic troubles.

“Getting drivers to where they need to be in the safest and most efficient way is always what we’re always striving for,” said Public Works Director Rob Cohen. “Some of the projects in FY 2020 have already been underway for a while, but the new ones scheduled to start really help illustrate the vision of the 2030 Mobility Master Plan. It’s not always easy to clearly envision what the plans speak to, but we’ve already made some great progress on CIP projects and look forward to helping new ones become a reality.”

Protecting Southlake

While you typically think of the Police and Fire Departments when it comes to protecting the community, in Southlake we take a team approach. Building Codes are in place to safeguard those inside buildings, and up-to-date and maintained infrastructure helps ensure continuation of services.

The proposed budget takes all of that into account and includes allocations to ensure the highest quality protection for Southlake. Initiatives include system capacity improvements for Southlake sewers, upgraded technology and equipment for police officers and firefighters, ongoing funding for school safety and the School Resource Officer program, funding to replace a fire ladder truck and additional equipment for the Outdoor Warning Siren Notifications.

“Emergencies and disasters happen when we least expect them,” said Fire Chief Michael Starr. “Sometimes we’re lucky and we have a little bit of heads up that trouble is on the way. We can’t always prevent disasters from happening, but we can be prepared to deal with them. Having a plan is key. The safety initiatives in the proposed FY 2020 will help us continue to execute and fine-tune our plans.

You can learn more about the proposed FY 2020 budget by visiting CityofSouthlake.com/FY2020